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Update from Plymouth City Council, Enforcement Activities.

Posted on August 5th, 2020 -

Plymouth City Council is aware the majority of landlords working within the Private Rented Sector wish to provide safe, affordable and compliant properties, the Council thank them for their diligence and hard work. The legislative framework continues to change and grow, for example the introduction of electrical safety standards regulations, the Council will continue to improve standards by working with landlords.

There are occasions when enforcement needs to be undertaken, most recently additional powers have been provided to enable the use of civil penalties, (typically up to £30,000) for a range of offences. Community Connections issued its first civil penalty on 5th April 2019. Since then they have issued 38 civil penalties, amounting to approx £120.000. If you receive any penalty warning the first port of call would be the Council, contact them to discuss this issue further. An appeal can also be made through the court tribunal system, a more accessible, less formal, and more affordable way than the traditional prosecution hearing.

If you have any queries, or just wish to read more, information is available on Plymouth City Councils website, search for landlords.


Coronavirus – Furlough Scheme Date Reminders

Posted on July 30th, 2020 -

We thought we’d remind you about some upcoming key dates and deadlines regarding the UK Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, as it begins to wind down.

The scheme is now closed to new applicants and employers are able to bring back some employees to work part-time. For the period ending 30 June you need to submit your CJST claim by, tomorrow, 31 July 2020, which is the last date you can make those claims. You will also need to have made a claim at any point on or before 31 July 2020 to be able to make a claim for future months too.

Full details are in the Propertymark Government funding guide (page 11) and here are some other key dates to be aware of:

  • From 1 August 2020 employers must pay employer National Insurance contributions and employer pension auto enrolment contributions for furloughed employees.
  • From 1 September, employers must contribute 10 per cent towards the pay of furloughed employees.
  • From 1 October, employers must contribute 20 per cent towards the pay of furloughed employees.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ends on 31 October 2020, meaning no employees can remain on furlough after this time.

Article from ARLA/Propertymark


Making Tax Digital (MTD) – Government Plans to Complete the Roll Out in 2022 & 2023

Posted on July 24th, 2020 -

The government has unveiled plans for the completion of the rollout of the Making Tax Digital (MTD) programme, with the scheme being incrementally extended from 2022.

Companies with turnover of more than £85,000 are currently required to file their quarterly VAT returns via the digital platform.

But from 1 April 2022, all VAT-registered firms must switch to MTD, regardless of the value of their sales.

The programme will be extended 12 months later to any individuals filing self-assessment income tax returns for annual business or property income in excess of £10,000. HMRC say ‘Self-employed businesses and landlords with annual business or property income above £10,000 will need to follow the rules for MTD for Income Tax from their next accounting period starting on or after 6 April 2023.

The government says that providing notice of the extension of MTD now will give businesses and individuals,  including the self-employed and buy-to-let landlords, enough time to plan for the switch.

Plans to make landlords submit tax returns digitally will provide a huge administration challenge, according to Katharine Arthur, partner and head of private client at accountancy firm haysmacintyre. 

She said: “The announcement is particularly significant, proposing a huge administrative challenge once Making Tax Digital becomes mandatory for Income Tax. 

“With reporting required quarterly as opposed to annually, it is likely that buy-to-let landlords, small business owners and the self-employed, who already have limited resources, will be most affected by this change.”

Making Tax Digital was originally announced by the now former chancellor George Osborne in the 2015 Autumn Statement, with a view to digitising the tax system with the self-employed, small businesses and unincorporated landlords needing to keep digital records and use software to update HMRC quarterly.

Arthur added: “With reporting required quarterly as opposed to annually, it is likely that buy-to-let landlords, small business owners and the self-employed, who already have limited resources, will be most affected by this change.”

Article from Landlord Today https://www.landlordtoday.co.uk/breaking-news/2020/7/btl-landlords-will-be-among-most-affected-by-tax-change-says-accountancy-firm


Trade Point – PPE Range

Posted on July 24th, 2020 -

Reminder – SWLA members can apply for a Trade Point Card and receive 5% off all Trade Point items (raising to 10% depending on previous spend). Contact the SWLA office for details on how to apply.


Landlord’s Guide to Reactivating Possession Cases from 23rd August

Posted on July 22nd, 2020 -

Information and article from The Sheriff’s Office; https://thesheriffsoffice.com/articles/new-measures-for-possession-proceedings-1

In preparation for the lifting of the moratorium on residential evictions on 23rd August, the Government has announced a new statutory instrument covering possession proceedings – The Civil Procedure (Amendment No. 4) (Coronavirus) Rules 2020 2020 No. 751 (L. 17) – which comes into force on 23rd August.

In preparation for the backlog of cases, and to protect vulnerable tenants, the Government has announced further measures once courts do reopen.

New measures

  • If you are a landlord and have a possession proceeding waiting for a hearing, then you will also have to do the following:
  • Inform both the court and the tenant in writing after the stay ends on 23rd August that you wish to proceed to court. This reactivation notice must be sent for the possession hearing to go ahead
  • Provide any relevant information about the position of the tenant. This includes information that is known about the tenant and any dependents with regards to vulnerability, disability, and social security as well as detail about if any occupants are shielding
  • To provide evidence of the total amount of arrears owed in advance of the hearing

Hearings spread out

Court hearings are likely to need to be spread out to avoid bunching, so the court will fix a date either on or after issue, and there will be a suspension of the usual 8-week period between the issue of a claim form and the actual hearing itself.

It must be noted that the above procedures must be carried out so that a court hearing can go ahead, any landlord who has been waiting for a hearing will certainly not wish to further delay their case being heard. We therefore suggest that you gather the evidence and information required so you do not experience a further delay to gaining possession of your, or your client’s, property.

CPR rules

This instrument inserts into Part 55 of the CPR a new rule which provides the basis for a new, temporary Practice Direction 55C supplementing Part 55 (“PD55C”). PD55C (which is available on the Ministry of Justice website.


‘No DSS’ Letting Bans Ruled Unlawful by Court

Posted on July 15th, 2020 -

The claimant had been a tenant for many years, with no problems and good references. She is a single mother with a disability, who was employed. She was searching for a new tenancy and contacted the defendant letting agents, only to receive an email stating that for years the agents “have had a policy of not accepting housing benefit tenants”.

The claimant, with Shelter acting, then brought the present claim for sex discrimination and disability discrimination under sections 19 and 29 Equality Act 2010 and for a declaration in the County Court.

Usually the defendant agents settle out of court in similar circumstances. But for once the defendant agents did not settle. However, it appears that they had a change of mind, possibly on the advice of counsel, as what was apparently a case management hearing was turned into a final hearing at the request of both parties and, as the order records, terms were agreed by the parties. However, as well as ordering the agent to pay damages of £3500 and costs, the District Judge also went on to make a declaration as sought and to give reasons.

The declaration is that;

The Defendant’s former policy of rejecting tenancy applications because the applicant is in receipt of Housing Benefit was unlawfully indirectly discriminatory on the grounds of sex and disability contrary to sections 19 and 29 of the Equality Act 2010.

The reasons record that:

A ‘No DSS policy’ puts or would put women at a particular disadvantage. 53.1% of female single-adult households renting privately claim Housing Benefit compared to 34% of male single- adult households. When households with couples are included, 18.8% of women renting privately claim Housing Benefit compared to 12.4% of men. This means that, in the private rented sector, using whichever of the two analyses set out above, women are more than 1.5 times as likely to rely on Housing Benefit, and thus be excluded by a No DSS policy, than men.

And in relation to disability:

A ‘No DSS policy’ puts or would put persons who are disabled at a particular disadvantage. 44.6% of households who claim DLA or SDA claim Housing Benefit compared to 15.1% of households who do not claim DLA or SDA. This means that, in the private rented sector, disabled households are almost three times as likely to rely on Housing Benefit, and thus be excluded by a ‘No DSS policy’, than non- disabled households.

A policy of ‘No DSS’ would therefore have an increased impact on women and on people with a disability. This amounted to indirect discrimination under section 19 Equality Act 2010.

It is, we must note, a county court judgment, and so not binding on other courts. However, in the absence of a defence under s.19(2)(d) Equality Act 2010, that the discriminatory practice is “a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”, it would seem likely that other courts would reach the same conclusion. No such defence was maintained in this claim (and for letting agents at least, it is hard to imagine what one might look like). I do not think it would be a defence for a letting agent to say the policy was at the request of the landlord(s).

What it means is that a blanket policy of refusing potential tenants who claim housing benefit is unlawful. What it does not mean is that potential tenants who claim housing benefit can’t be refused.

In principle, the same should apply to landlords, as well as letting agents. However, it may be that some landlords may have a s.19(2)(d) defence, for example, that their mortgage agreement has a condition of no letting to housing benefit claimants. Most of the bigger lenders have changed their policies on this, but there will still be some lenders and historic mortgages with those conditions.

What this doesn’t mean, alas, is that housing will be any more affordable. It should mean that housing benefit claimants have the opportunity to be considered for a tenancy on their own circumstances, rather than rejected straight away under a blanket policy.

Thank to Rose Arnall of Shelter for the copy of the Order and Reasons. She has been pursuing this issue for years.

Article from Nearly Legal; https://nearlylegal.co.uk/2020/07/discrimination-and-no-dss/?utm_source=mailpoet&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=new-on-nearly-legal-newsletter-total-new-posts_1

The order and reasons can be read here; http://431bj62hscf91kqmgj258yg6-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/20.07.02-Redacted-Court-Order.pdf


Buy-to-Let Landlords Welcome Stamp Duty Cut

Posted on July 9th, 2020 -

The summer statement provided a much welcome boost for buy-to-let landlords who stand to benefit from the stamp duty holiday. 

The levy has been scrapped immediately for all homes under £500,000, to kick-start the stalled housing market and pick up the flagging economy. 

Rishi Sunak said the move would benefit nine in ten home buyers, saving £4,500 on the average purchase.

But with the threshold raised, purchasers, including buy-to-let landlords, acquiring a property for less than £500,000 will save up to £15,000 on their total tax bill.

However, the 3% surcharge for additional homes, including buy-to-let properties, still applies on top of the revised standard rates, so purchases of homes valued up to £500,000 will attract a 3% stamp duty bill.

Sara Macallum, senior partner at Boodle Hatfield, said: “The 3% surcharge will still sit on top of these new bands – so for buyers of second homes, they will pay 3% SDLT up to £500,000, as opposed to 3% up to £125k, 5% from £125k up to £250k, and 8% from £250k to £500k.”

“Overall, it works out as an SDLT saving of £15k for both normal and additional rate taxpayers. Taking the example of a first-time buyer of an apartment for £750k, they will pay SDLT of £12,500 instead of £27,500. If on the other hand this were someone buying a second home, they would pay SDLT of £35,000 instead of £50,000. 

“Companies will also benefit from these changes where they are not subject to the flat 15% rate.”

Article abridged from Landlord Today;

https://www.landlordtoday.co.uk/breaking-news/2020/7/btl-landlords-to-benefit-from-stamp-duty-cut


The new ‘Green Homes Grant’

Posted on July 9th, 2020 -

Homeowners in England will be able to get up to £5,000 worth of vouchers to make energy-saving improvements to their properties from September 2020.

The government will pay at least two thirds of the cost of some energy-saving home improvements. Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced details of the £2bn Green Homes Grant in the recent economic update statement.

Homeowners and landlords will be able to apply for the vouchers from September 2020. The announcement is part of a £3bn investment in green technology to cut carbon emissions.

The vouchers will be for homeowners and are expected to cover energy-saving measures including boilers, double glazing, energy-efficient doors, energy-saving light bulbs and insulation. The vouchers will pay for at least two thirds of eligible measures up to the value of £5,000. For example, if you wanted to fit insulation worth £4,000 in your home, you would pay £1,320 and the government would give you a voucher for the remaining £2,680.

Those on the lowest incomes wouldn’t have to pay anything and could get vouchers of up to £10,000.

You’ll need to complete an online application for one of the recommended home improvements, get a quote from a listed supplier and have that quote approved before getting the voucher to spend. The Government has said that homeowners will be able to apply for the grants on the Simple Energy Advice website from September.

Some commentators have warned that the funds allocated for Green Homes Grants could run out very quickly, as happened with the 2014 Green Deal Home Improvement Fund.

Article abridged from Which;


Coronavirus impact on Cornwall PRS, virtual meeting.

Posted on July 7th, 2020 -

Iain Maitland represented SWLA at the virtual Covid19 impact on Cornwall Private Rented Sector (PRS) meeting held on 7th July 2020.

This initial meeting included facts and discussions around:
– PRS Shrinkage and Market Shift
– Empty Properties
– Houses in Multiple Occupation
– National Government Interventions, such as introduction of mortgage holidays, the furlough scheme, assistance for the self employed etc.

We will update you further with more information as and when future meetings are held.



Arrears Management and Coronavirus – A Guide for Landlords & Tenants

Posted on July 3rd, 2020 -

The housing sector has come together to support landlords and tenants facing rent arrears as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak. A guide has been published offering practical ways in which arrears can be addressed.

Landlords and tenants facing arrears can use the guidance, it’s a brilliant resource that contains numerous options and support information.

https://news.rla.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/rent-arrears-management-guidance.pdf


Plymouth Properties Required for Families

Posted on July 2nd, 2020 -

BCHA are a social housing landlord and registered housing provider delivering services in Plymouth, who are looking to lease more residential properties in Plymouth.

BCHA are interested in leasing a range of 2 /3 /4 or 5 bedroom houses to use as family homes

Benefits to the owner:

  • A guarantee to pay you every month in full
  • Repairs and maintenance covered
  • No letting agent costs
  • BCHA ensure the property is fully compliant
  • BCHA lease for a period of 1-3 years, sometimes longer
  • Guarantee that the property is returned in an improved if not original condition

Please contact Nick Richards if you are interested in further discussions.

Nick Richards Property Development Officer

BCHA, St Swithun’s House, 21 Christchurch Road, Bournemouth BH1 3NS

Tel No: 01202 410538       Mobile: 07971614990


Courts to Resume Possession Cases from 24th August 2020

Posted on July 2nd, 2020 -

The government has confirmed that courts will begin to hear possession cases from 24th August – providing greater certainty for the rental market.

The suspension of possession cases began on 27th March and was put in place to give tenants reassurance and security during the Coronavirus pandemic.

https://www.arla.co.uk/news/june-2020/concerns-expressed-to-ministry-of-justice-on-housing-possession-cases/


Section 21 & Gas Safety Record Before Occupation

Posted on June 26th, 2020 -

Of course, landlords need to ensure that they provide a Gas Safety Certificate to a tenant before occupation. However, what if this certificate is given late? Does that mean that a landlord can never serve a Section 21 notice?

A Court of Appeal decision has been made; all information in this article is from Landlord Blog – https://www.landlordlawblog.co.uk/2020/06/18/failing-serve-gas-safety-certificate-tenants-move-fatal-s21-claims-says-court-appeal/

This post is written by housing barrister Justin Bates who led for the successful landlord in this case.

In Trecarrell House Ltd v Rouncefield the Court of Appeal has held (by 2 to 1) that a landlord who has failed to provide his tenant with a gas safety certificate before the tenant enters into occupation is not prevented from using s.21, Housing Act 1988 to recover possession so long as he remedies that omission before service of the notice.

Legal framework

The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 impose various obligations on residential landlords. These include a requirement to carry out an annual gas safety inspection (r.36(3)); to give a tenant a copy of a gas safety certificate within 28 days of any such inspection (reg.36(6)(a)); and, to give the current certificate to any tenant prior to occupation (reg.36(6)(b)).

Section 21, Housing Act 1988 creates a “no fault / notice only” ground for possession against an assured shorthold tenant. A notice may not be given at a time when a landlord is in breach of a prescribed requirement (s.21A, 1988 Act). The prescribed requirement include reg.36(6) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, save that

… the requirement… is limited to the requirement on a landlord to give a copy of the relevant record to the tenant and the 28 day period for compliance with that requirement does not apply

(Assured Shorthold Tenancy Notices and Prescribed Requirements (England) Regulations 2015).

The Facts of the Case

In February 2017, Ms Rouncefield became the assured shorthold tenant of a flat of which Trecarrel House Ltd was her landlord. The landlord did not give her a gas safety certificate before she entered into occupation but, in November 2017, provided her with a copy of a certificate dated January 2017.

In May 2018, the landlord served notice under s.21, Housing Act 1988 and issued possession proceedings. The tenant defended the claim on the basis that because no gas safety certificate had been provided prior to her taking occupation, the landlord was not entitled to serve notice under s.21.

The Circuit Judge held that a failure to provide a gas safety certificate before the tenancy commenced was not capable of being remedied and dismissed the claim for possession.

The Court of Appeal granted permission to appeal. The tenant served a Respondents’ Notice taking a new issue. It was said that there had been a further gas safety check carried out in February 2018 and that no gas safety certificate had been provided in respect of that test; the failure to do so was said to amount to a breach of a prescribed requirement and so to provide a further reason why the s.21 notice was invalid. The landlord contended that the certificate
had been given before the s.21 notice was served.

The Court of Appeal Decision

By a majority, the Court of Appeal held that the correct construction of s.21A and the 2015 Regulations was that the time period for compliance with both Reg.36(6)(a) and (b) was disapplied.

Thus, a s.21 notice could be given so long as the landlord had – at any time before service of the s.21 notice – given the tenant a copy of the certificate which was in force before they entered into occupation and a copy of any further certificate which related to a subsequent inspection.

It was therefore immaterial that the January 2017 certificate had not been given to the tenant until November 2017. There was, however, a factual dispute as to
whether the 2018 certificate had been provided and that was remitted for consideration by the county court.

Implications

In simple terms, this is good news for landlords. A failure to provide the original gas safety certificate prior to the tenant going into occupation is not fatal to a s.21 claim so long as it is provided before the s.21 notice is served.

Likewise, the failure to give the annual test certificate is not fatal so long as it too is given before the s.21 notice is served. Given the huge number of gas safety tests that have been missed as a result of the current public health crisis, that is likely to come as a sharp relief.

There are, however, two difficult questions which are left open by the judgment.

The first is what the position is if the landlord has not done a gas safety check (and so does not have a gas safety certificate) for the period before the tenant went into occupation. How (if at all) can that be remedied? What if a check was done but the record is now not available?

The second is similar. What happens if the landlord fails to do the annual gas safety inspection so that there is no certificate to provide? This is probably less important. There is recognition in the judgment that the duty to do an annual safety inspection (reg.36(3)) is not a prescribed requirement for the purposes of s.21A, Housing Act 1988.

There is, however, something rather unattractive about a landlord seeking possession in circumstances where he has unlawfully failed to do a check (and thus provide a certificate) and whether that amounts to (impermissibly) relying on your own wrongdoing.


Free Landlord Webinar – Life After Lockdown, Back to Business

Posted on June 25th, 2020 -

Tuesday 30th June 2020, 2pm

Hosted by Paul Shamplina, Landlord Action and Fran Miller, Bristol City Council.

Sign up here; https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/6499132275425335053

Paul Shamplina has 28 years’ experience in the legal field helping landlords; and set up Landlord Action in 1999 .  Paul believes passionately in the rights of landlords and campaigns to improve the standards in the private rented sector.   Well known in the media, Paul regular presents on Channel Five’s hit series ‘Nightmare Tenants, Slum Landlords’   Paul will be sharing his knowledge, experience and expertise in his webinar at a time when landlords face an uncertain future.  

Paul, recently awarded ‘Best Seminar Speaker 2019 at the National Landlord Investment Show Awards, is generously giving you the opportunity  to keep up to date and will be covering: 

  • Government Guidance under Covid 19
  • Managing tenancies
  • Dealing with disputes
  • What parts of the PRS are affected the most


Coronavirus – Ban on Evictions Extended by 2 Months to Further Protect Renters

Posted on June 8th, 2020 -

  • Suspension of evictions from social or private rented accommodation extended by 2 months
  • New court rules will ensure vulnerable renters will be protected when the suspension of evictions ends
  • Government committed to ensuring that no one is evicted from their home this summer due to coronavirus.

The extension announced by the Housing Secretary on 5 June 2020 takes the moratorium on evictions to a total of 5 months to ensure that renters continue to have certainty and security.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/ban-on-evictions-extended-by-2-months-to-further-protect-renters


Coronavirus – HMO Landlords – Discretionary Business Grant Launched

Posted on June 4th, 2020 -

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-for-the-coronavirus-local-authority-discretionary-grants-fund

What is the purpose of the Discretionary Business Grants?

The discretionary fund will support businesses who have fixed costs and have been affected by COVID-19.  The intention of the grant is to support small businesses with high premises-related costs that fell outside of the original grant scheme.

HMO landlords have fixed costs (Council Tax, water rates, utility bills). HMO landlords who have had a COVID-19 related drop in rental income may wish to consider applying for the discretionary grant. The applications are assessed on a points basis. Applications opened on 01 June 2020 so if you intend on applying, do not delay. Grants are likely to be awarded only in exceptional circumstances so you will need to prove that you have had a drop in rental income.

This grant is aimed at small businesses with ongoing fixed property-related costs. Local authorities are to to prioritise businesses in shared spaces, regular market traders, small charity properties that would meet the criteria for Small Business Rates Relief, and bed and breakfasts that pay council tax rather than business rates. But local authorities may choose to make payments to other businesses based on local economic need. The allocation of funding will be at the discretion of local authorities.

Businesses must be small, under 50 employees, and they must also be able to demonstrate that they have seen a significant drop of income due to Coronavirus restriction measures.

For further information and to make an application, visit your Local Authority website.

https://www.visitplymouth.co.uk/invest/business-support/covid-19/business-grants/discretionary-business-grants

https://www.gov.uk/find-local-council


Coronavirus – NHS Announce Stay at Home Measures on the Back of New Test and Trace Service

Posted on June 2nd, 2020 -

With effect from 28 May 2020, individuals who have been notified that they have had contact with an infected person and instructed to stay at home for 14 days under the new NHS test and trace system will also be deemed incapable of work and eligible for SSP (statutory sick pay).

How NHS test and trace service works

Part 1: for someone with symptoms of coronavirus

  1. isolate: as soon as you experience coronavirus symptoms, medical advice is clear: you must self-isolate for at least 7 days. Anyone else in your household must self-isolate for 14 days from when you started having symptoms
  2. test: order a test immediately at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or call 119 if you have no internet access
  3. results: if your test is positive, you must complete the remainder of your 7-day self-isolation. Anyone in your household must also complete self-isolation for 14 days from when you started having symptoms. If your test is negative, you and other household members no longer need to self-isolate
  4. share contacts: if you test positive for coronavirus, the NHS test and trace service will send you a text or email alert or call you with instructions of how to share details of people with whom you have had close, recent contact and places you have visited. It is important that you respond as soon as possible so that we can give appropriate advice to those who need it. You will be told to do this online via a secure website or you will be called by one of our contract tracers.

Part 2: if you are contacted by the NHS test and trace service because you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus

  1. alert: you will be alerted by the NHS test and trace service if you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus. The alert will usually come by text, email or phone call. You should then log on to the NHS test and trace website, which is normally the easiest way for you and the service to communicate with each other – but, if not, a trained call handler will talk you through what you must do. Under-18s will get a phone call and a parent or guardian will be asked to give permission for the call to continue
  2. isolate: you will be told to begin self-isolation for 14 days from your last contact with the person who has tested positive. It’s really important to do this even if you don’t feel unwell because, if you have been infected, you could become infectious to others at any point up to 14 days. Your household doesn’t need to self-isolate with you, if you do not have symptoms, but they must take extra care to follow the guidance on social distancing and handwashing and avoid contact with you at home
  3. test if needed: if you develop symptoms of coronavirus, other members of your household must self-isolate immediately at home for 14 days and you must book a test at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or call 119 if you have no internet access. If your test is positive, you must continue to stay at home for at least 7 days and we will get in touch to ask about your contacts since they must self-isolate. If your test is negative, you must still complete your 14-day self-isolation period because the virus may not be detectable yet – this is crucial to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus.

For further information, see the full guidance; https://www.gov.uk/guidance/nhs-test-and-trace-how-it-works


Government Publish a ‘Guide for Landlords: electrical safety standards in the private rented sector’

Posted on June 1st, 2020 -

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/electrical-safety-standards-in-the-private-rented-sector-guidance-for-landlords-tenants-and-local-authorities/guide-for-landlords-electrical-safety-standards-in-the-private-rented-sector

The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 came into force on 1 June 2020.

The new regulations will apply to new tenancies from 1 July 2020 and to existing tenancies from 1 April 2021.

Landlords must have the electrical installations in their properties inspected and tested by a person who is “qualified and competent”, at least every five years. Landlords must provide a copy of the electrical safety report to their tenants (and to their local authority if requested). For further information, please see the government guidance link above.


Coronavirus – Changes to the Job Retention (Furlough) Scheme

Posted on May 31st, 2020 -

Through June and July, the scheme will continue in it’s current form with no change, the Government will pay 80% of wages up to £2,500 per month – with no employer contribution.

Greater flexibility has been introduced. This will help agencies to bring back more employees while they establish business need.

From July 1, under a new ‘flexible furlough’ employers will have more freedom to bring back employees for a number of days per week. To make changes, the existing scheme will need to close, this will happen on June 30 and new registrations under the existing scheme, will need to be made prior to June 10.

In August, the taxpayer contribution will stay at 80% of wages. Employers will be asked to pay national insurance and employer pension contributions.

By September employers will have made preparations and will therefore be asked to start paying towards people’s wages whilst the Government ensure staff remaining on furlough continue to receive up to 80% of their salary. Taxpayers will pay 70% of furloughed wages, employers will pay 10%.

Then in October, taxpayers will pay 60% with employers contributing 20%.

The Self-Employment Income Scheme will be extended, with applications opening in August for a second and final grant covering three months’ worth of average monthly trading profits up to 70% or a maximum total of £6,570.

Through June and July, the scheme will continue in it’s current form with no change, the Government will pay 80% of wages up to £2,500 per month – with no employer contribution.

In line with the messaging that Propertymark has been pushing through to Government on behalf of members, greater flexibility has been introduced. This will help member agencies to bring back more employees while they establish business need.

From July 1, under a new ‘flexible furlough’ employers will have more freedom to bring back employees for a number of days per week. To make changes, the existing scheme will need to close, this will happen on June 30 and new registrations under the existing scheme, will need to be made prior to June 10.

In August, the taxpayer contribution will stay at 80% of wages. Employers will be asked to pay national insurance and employer pension contributions.

By September employers will have made preparations and will therefore be asked to start paying towards people’s wages whilst the Government ensure staff remaining on furlough continue to receive up to 80% of their salary. Taxpayers will pay 70% of furloughed wages, employers will pay 10%.

Then in October, taxpayers will pay 60% with employers contributing 20%.

The Self-Employment Income Scheme will be extended, with applications opening in August for a second and final grant 
covering three months’ worth of average monthly trading profits 
up to 70% or a maximum total of £6,570.

The Chancellor went on to advise there will be no further extensions or amendments to these schemes.

Information from ARLA-Propertymark


Tenant Fees Act – Transition Period Comes to an End

Posted on May 31st, 2020 -

The Tenant Fees Act 2019 (which came into force on 01 June 2019) provided a transition period of 12 months for tenancies which started before June 2019, this ends 31 May 2020. This means that any tenancy clauses in existing contracts that charge fees will not be enforceable after this date.

Any breach of the ban will incur a penalty of up to £5,000.00. Further breaches can result in a criminal offence and unlimited fines.

Key points;

Check-out fees – Letting agents should be aware that tenants on existing contracts which involved paying check-out fees up front, these become Prohibited Payments as of 1 June 2020. Agents will have 28 days in which to repay these fees to tenants or they will be in breach of the legislation.

End of the transition period – During the transition period fees written into existing contracts could continue to be charged. However, with the 12-month transition period now ending from 1 June 2020, the ban applies to all tenancies (both Fixed Term and Periodic) regardless of when the tenancy started.

Tenancy Deposits – The Act set a cap (five or six weeks rent dependent on the amount of rent paid annually) for how much could be charged as a security deposit on a tenancy. This will apply to all relevant tenancies (ASTs and Licenses to occupy) from 1 June 2020.Agents do not need to immediately refund any part of an existing Tenancy Deposit that exceeds the cap of five or six weeks’ rent and can hold this for the duration of the existing tenancy. However, where a tenant renews their tenancy by signing a new Fixed Term agreement on or after 1 June 2019, any amount of their existing deposit which exceeds the applicable five- or six-week limit must be refunded to ensure the new tenancy complies with the tenancy deposit cap. Agents should liaise with the Tenancy Deposit schemes when dealing with calculations.

Section 21 – A Section 21 notice cannot be issued in relation to the tenancy if Prohibited Payments or Holding Deposits need to be repaid.

For detailed information on the Tenant Fees Act and what it means for landlords;
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/819634/TFA_Landlord_and_Agent_Guidance_190722.pdf


Coronavirus – Employers Must Contribute to Extended Furlough Scheme from August

Posted on May 29th, 2020 -

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has laid out how he expects to move businesses off the Coronavirus job Retention Scheme, meaning that some agencies must begin to start part-paying salaries for furloughed staff.

The Job Retention Scheme currently supports 7.5 million workers on furlough, guaranteeing 80 per cent of staff pay up to £2,500 per month, alongside national insurance and pension payments. The Chancellor announced an extension of the scheme until October on 12 May. No changes are expected until the end of July.

Changes begin in August

From August, employers will be required to pay a quarter of all staff wages – even if the business is still in lockdown. They will also be required to pay National Insurance contributions, but it is thought that the Government will still pay pension contributions.

Employees may start working part-time

Employers will be able to bring furloughed staff back part-time from August and will be obliged to declare the number of hours the currently furloughed staff work if they return. Firms caught abusing the system by not paying their share of staff wages face fraud charges.

Information for both employers and employees can be found on the gov.uk website. 

Article from ARLA/Propertymark;

https://www.arla.co.uk/news/may-2020/employers-must-contribute-to-extended-furlough-scheme-from-august/


Coronavirus – Agents; Guidance from the Government on Working Safely During Coronavirus

Posted on May 21st, 2020 -

Government guidance for offices; https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/offices-and-contact-centres

Webinar for offices; https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/working-safely-during-coronavirus-offices-contact-centres-tickets-105954490734?aff=BIRD

Government guidance for branches; https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/shops-and-branches

Webinar for branches; https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/working-safely-during-coronavirus-shops-branches-tickets-105950589064

Business Support Helpline

The Government Business Support Helpline number in England has changed to FREEPHONE 0800 998 1098. The helpline provides free, impartial business support and signposting services to businesses in England – which currently includes business advice on Covid-19.  

You can also find free support, advice and sources of finance through your local growth hub or speak to an advisor on webchat about support for your business. 


Universal Credit – Landlords Can Now Apply Online for UC Direct Payments if a Tenant is Having Difficulty Paying Rent

Posted on May 15th, 2020 -

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/universal-credit-landlord-request-for-a-managed-payment-or-rent-arrears-deduction

This is a new online service for landlords to request direct payments of rent or rent arrears. It replaces the existing UC47 process.

Use this service to request payment of rent directly from a tenant’s Universal Credit, if a tenant is having difficulty paying their rent.

Guidance on when to request a managed payment or rent arrears deduction, or both from a tenant’s Universal Credit can be found in the Alternative Payments guide.


Coronavirus – Government advice on home moving during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

Posted on May 13th, 2020 -

This guidance applies to people moving between private residential homes; https://www.gov.uk/guidance/government-advice-on-home-moving-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak#history

All businesses should follow the government’s latest guidance for employers and businesses on coronavirus and safer working guidance.

As well as government guidance, we encourage all professionals to speak to their representative bodies and familiarise themselves with the guidance that these bodies have prepared for their specific sectors.

It is important that all businesses work together to ensure we stay alert and safe to minimise the spread of infection and we expect all sectors to consider how they can operate in a way which minimises the need for face to face contact.

Stay alert

We can all help control the virus if we all stay alert. This means you must:

  • stay at home as much as possible
  • work from home if you can
  • limit contact with other people
  • keep your distance if you go out (2 metres apart where possible)
  • wash your hands regularly

Do not leave home if you or anyone in your household has symptoms.


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